I wanted to wait until I had a real dive under my belt before I wrote about my experience with the scuba class and my thoughts on diving.
I was not impressed with the dive shop that I went to and how they handled the class. There were fourteen people getting certified that weekend. Because of the size of the class we were split into two groups of 7. A couple other things that kind of rubbed me the wrong way as well.
The day we were in the pool it was highly irritating because we were all new, we all had varied degree of swimming levels and we were all bumbling with the scuba equipment. It was hard not to run into each other, there were about 20 people total in the pool all in scuba gear. The spacious lap pool felt more like a tiny kiddie pool. Because of the sheer size of the class the instructors & masters seemed a little frazzled because they needed to keep their eyes on everyone at once. I do not believe they were paying close attention to the skills we were each doing apart from the mask clearing and the second stage regulators skills.
On our second day of diving we were at Morrison Springs. One of many natural spring systems here in Florida. The water was crystal clear blue. The mangrove trees were coming out of the water and stretching up to the nearly cloudless sky. It was just a perfect, perfect day. This was our first in real water dive day. When you’re getting certified to dive you have a dive in a pool, then you go into an enclosed body of water, then your last dive(s) are in open water. Our first two dives of the day we completed most of the skills we had done the previous day in the pool. The thing you have to know about water in a natural spring is that the temp is constant. Morrison was about 68-70 degrees. It wasn’t terrible at first, but by the time our second dive was over I was shivering. I just wanted the skills to be over. I was getting irritated because it was so cold and we had so many people to get through. It was hard to pay attention towards the end because of the class size (again broken down into 2 groups of 7). The third dive was a lot smoother with less skills and more swimming, but again I know for a fact that I didn’t accurately complete a skill and the instructor moved on assuming I had done it. I didn’t see a single fish. LAME!
Our last day of diving was the most disappointing out of all the dives that weekend. We were finally to the open water. This is what I was waiting for. I want to dive salt water. I want to see the pretty fish of Florida. I want to see coral. I was so stoked to get out in the water that day. We had only two skills to complete which was the compass navigation on the surface and underwater. Easy peasy. Then theoretically we could do a bit of a leisurely dive. Basically after our skills were done we did a few fast passes around the tiny area we were at then that was it. I was in the water MAYBE 15 minutes. I spent more time cleaning up the beach waiting for everyone to get their gear set up and the instructors to be ready than I did in the water. The beach we were at was disgusting with all the trash that was on it. I don’t know why it is so hard to clean up after yourself. But that is a different post…
Another annoyance to the short dive is that we were all new at it and we couldn’t get our buoyancy right and it was hard to be horizontal in the water without having a fin in your face. We were kicking up all the silt so visibility turned terrible. These were all attributing factors to the not so great dive.
So with the not so great beginning I decided to hold off until I did at least one actual dive where I wasn’t being overwhelmed by people around me and I could actually see cool stuff.
Sunday Husband and I arranged for a sitter and went out with the intention of diving. Unfortunately the weather hadn’t worked with us and it was really not the best day to dive. But Husband and I went out anyways. The underwater camera at the site we decided on made the visibility look wonderful so we figured even if it was work to get to the site, it would be a good dive anyways. Wellllll…………. It was. But it was a hard first dive.
The surf was rough. The current was strong. I am a competent enough swimmer that, though had we not already decided that we would dive, I probably wouldn’t have gone for a swim. However, it wasn’t so rough that I did not think I could do it. I just knew I would have to work for it. So I did.
The swim out to the site was certainly work. Husband dove down at the site marker buoy and tied off our diver down flag. At this point I realized that my tank had fallen out of its band that secures the tank to the BCD. Luckily there were other divers there. I was able to let them know of my issue so that they could help secure my tank while Husband was under the water types no down our flag. Now, I’m not sure if I didn’t secure the strap properly in the first place or if the waves knocked it loose on me. I don’t have a clue. Either way, I’m thankful that someone was randomly there to help me. Husband assures me that he would have been able to secure the tank to me when he surfaced so I wasn’t in real danger.
While we were doing the actual dive it was so so much nicer because I only had to worry about staying with Husband and monitoring myself. We went slower than I had with the class so I got to see a lot more things. I was still having a little bit of trouble with my buoyancy, but it was easier to concentrate on that rather than keeping up with a fast paced class. I was much less stressed out. The current was strong so I didn’t want to get too close to the pilings that had the marine life growing on them because I didn’t want to inadvertently hit them and potentially injure the life on them. While diving we found a plastic shopping bag. Seeing it floating along in the water it was easy (not that it wasn’t before) to see why animals mistake them for jellyfish. We saw some jellies and the bag behaved exactly the same way. Husband took it and put it in the pocket of his BCD. We waved at the underwater camera then it was time to go. Our dive was about 35 minutes. Had the current and surf not been so strong we could have had longer, but it had made us work harder so we went through air faster.
The surf had only strengthened while we were diving so our swim back into shore was harder than our swim out. Eventually we got to the point where we could touch so we took our fins off to walk in… only by the time I got both off, the current had pulled me to the point where I could no longer touch which was a problem because with the weight of the gear, if you don’t have your fins on you’ll never move. Husband had his fins off by that point, but managed to retrieve me. I ended up crawling out of the water because the waves wouldn’t let me stand back up. All the while there were three bros on the shore fishing, drinking, and laughing watching my struggle. I wanted to kick sand at them, but was too exhausted to do so.
I loved the dive itself, but it was such work in the before and after. I want to go again. I am determined to love it. I am just frustrated that my first few dives have been less than stellar.